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An overhead photograph of part of a bowl of steamed rice rolls, tied at one nd and drizzled in an orange-colored sauce
A bowl of steamed rice rolls from Bonnie’s.
Bonnie’s

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NYC’s Most Anticipated Restaurant Openings, Fall 2021

From the rebirth of a downtown Manhattan icon to a Cantonese-American shop from a rising chef, these are the hottest restaurant openings in New York City this fall

This fall, even with the pandemic far from over, things feel like they’re finally getting back to normal. There is no shortage of exciting openings in 2021 — especially compared to a year ago, when New York City was only beginning to reintroduce indoor dining. There’s much to look forward to on the horizon: The golden era of Indian restaurants in NYC will only continue to grow. An iconic downtown Manhattan spot is coming back to life. Young chefs are cooking up dishes that draw on their personal stories, whether it’s one chef turning to his mother’s Cantonese recipes or another spot inspired by Jewish grandmothers.

An opening date is a moving target during any restaurant opening, but for now, these are the 14 most exciting openings to come this fall.


An overhead photograph of a plate stacked with rice and Hainanese chicken
Bonnie’s is set to open in late September, owner Calvin Eng says.
Daniel Eddy/Bonnie’s

Bonnie’s

Opening: End of September

After documenting the construction of his restaurant on TikTok, former Win Son chef Calvin Eng is preparing to invite customers inside Bonnie’s for the first time. “I’m calling it Cantonese-American,” he says of his breakout restaurant, and it’s clear he’s given the term some thought. “All of the ideas behind it are Cantonese, but there will be a lot of Western influence, technique, and ingredients.” Eng was born in Brooklyn, and his Williamsburg restaurant, named for his mom, draws more on home cooking and meals out in Chinatown as a child than his training in restaurant kitchens. “I know how to use a saute pan better than a wok,” he says. The opening menu consists of roughly 20 items, some that the chef already debuted at pop-ups this spring and summer — Hong Kong macaroni soup, salted duck egg custard French toast — and others that are new to the brick-and-mortar space. 398 Manhattan Avenue, at Frost Street, Williamsburg


An assortment of dishes is organized on a table, including baguette and roast chicken, along with two glasses of wine
Rotisserie chicken, baguette, trout and salt cod croquettes, and other dishes at Runner Up.
Runner Up

Runner Up

Opening: Mid-September

With the opening of Winner, Daniel Eddy solidified Park Slope’s stroller-packed Fifth Avenue as a dining destination in its own right. More than a year later, the former Rebelle chef is gearing up to do it again with a restaurant and wine bar located next door to his hit bakery. He’s calling it Runner Up, even though it technically came first. “This was initially the only thing I planned on doing,” he says. (The chef apparently opened Winner because the Runner Up space was only available as part of a package deal that included both properties). Eddy wants his second restaurant to be buttoned-up — but in an untucked, short sleeve t-shirt sort of way — a place where customers can crush Modelos and also cozy up with a four-course meal. Winner’s sought-after roast chicken will be served in a sit-down setting for the first time, as will roughly a dozen other dishes, including trout and salt cod croquettes breaded in rye crumbs baked next door. 367 Seventh Avenue, near 11th Street, Park Slope


Cha Kee

Opening: Mid-September

Jimmy Fong says he wants to entice more New Yorkers to Chinatown for its nightlife. “You don’t see Asian Americans around here after hours anymore,” says Fong, who also opened Sai Gon Dep in Midtown. “We want to change things up and diversify the clientele.” The first step to his plan: Open a space spanning two floors with several different restaurants rolled into one space. In the upstairs level of Cha Kee, chef Akiko Thurnaeur is cooking up a family-style menu that fuses traditional Chinese and Japanese dishes, like a shredded vegetable salad with creamy miso tofu dressing and dan dan noodles topped with onsen-style egg. Eventually, there are plans to open a Japanese crudo bar downstairs, which will be helmed by another Japanese chef, Takayuki Nakamura. Fong and co-owners Ophelia Wu and Baron Chan already run Basement, a speakeasy located next door at 45 Mott Street, and there are also plans to open an izakaya of sorts above the bar. “We wanted to have a different style of restaurant in Chinatown,” Fong says. “You can’t find something exactly like us around here.”43 Mott Street, near Pell Street, Chinatown


A chef with long dark hair, a black shirt, and a dark blue apron sits smiling behind two platters of colorful desserts.
Chef Surbhi Sahni.
Tagmo

Tagmo

Opening: September 17

Born as an online Indian desserts shop in 2019, Tagmo, founded by chef Surbhi Sahni, is moving this fall into a cozy restaurant near the waterfront at the South Street Seaport. Sahni, whose resume includes fine dining hotspots Devi, Tulsi, and Saar Indian Bistro, built the restaurant to function as both a pastry shop and weeknight dinner spot, offering a variety of homestyle regional Indian fare in an intimate, jewel-toned dining room. A big draw here will be the desserts: Diners at Tagmo — which means tigress in Bhutanese — will have the opportunity to build individual mithai flights, or dessert spreads composed of three sweets with options including besan ladoo, pistachio burfi, and chocolate kaju katli. 226 Front Street, between Beekman Street and Peck Slip, Seaport District


A colorful indoor dining room with custom light fixtures, several tables set for service, and custom tiling on its floors and walls.
The indoor dining room at Zou Zou’s.
Zou Zou’s

Zou Zou’s

Opening: September

Quality Branded, the hospitality group behind Don Angie and Smith and Wollensky, are the latest to sign onto the multi-million dollar Manhattan West development with the opening of Zou Zou’s. Sure, the restaurant is located within a development project across from Hudson Yards and, yes, it’s opening in partnership with the Montage Hotel, but Madeline Sperling and Juliana Latif think they can beat the odds. Sperling, the restaurant’s head chef and an alum of Gramercy Tavern, met Latif while working in the kitchen of the one-Michelin-starred Nomad. From this 75-seat restaurant in Chelsea, the duo will now turn their eye toward Eastern Mediterranean cuisine, with a focus on Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt, and Jordan. 85 Manhattan West Plaza, West 33rd Street between Ninth and 10th avenues, Chelsea


A high-ceilinged, industrial dining room with grey bar stools pulled up to a counter, hanging light fixtures, and plants strewn throughout the space
The high-ceilinged indoor dining room at Nura.
Nura

Nura

Opening: Mid-September

When chef Scott Hawley and Michelle Lobo-Hawley opened Otis, their Bushwick restaurant, they named the business after their 90-pound Great Dane mix. Four years and a pandemic later, the couple is putting the finishing touches on their latest project, a Greenpoint restaurant that shares a name with their recently adopted second pet. Nura, the dog, is “half the size with twice the energy” as Otis, Hawley says, but his forthcoming restaurant of the same name is going for something more composed. “We wanted a little bit more of a polished restaurant than what Otis is,” Hawley says. He tapped the design team behind hit Brooklyn restaurants Oxomoco and Llama San to turn a retired auto repair shop on Franklin Street into a plant-filled neighborhood hangout with 80 indoor seats. Jackie Carnesi, a former Roberta’s chef who helped open Burgie’s in Bushwick, will lead the kitchen with a menu that draws from Lobo-Hawley’s Indian heritage. The menu is still coming together, but Hawley promised skewers, freshly baked bread, and dishes prepared using a tandoori oven. 46 Norman Avenue, at Guernsey Street, Greenpoint


Charles Pan-Fried Chicken

Opening: End of September

Charles Gabriel will no longer be a one-man show. He’s ready to take over New York after nearly three decades of single-handedly frying up countless pieces of tender, crispy skinned chicken in his black cast-iron skillets. Earlier this year, the 74-year-old chef unveiled plans to open several locations in NYC of his well-regarded Harlem restaurant, which he closed down during the pandemic. The newest location to open will again be in Harlem, just steps away from Copeland’s, where Gabriel worked for 22 years before striking out on his own. While fried chicken will still be the prized menu item at future openings — an Upper West Side spot is slated to debut in October and another uptown location later this year — Gabriel is introducing never-seen-before dishes at Charles Pan-Fried Chicken. He’s been working on perfecting recipes for wood-smoked barbecue ribs, pulled pork, and for the first time, the ever-in-demand fried chicken sandwich that’s now ubiquitous across the city from fancy soul food restaurants to national chains. “He’s doing what he does best,” says Quie Slobert, the restaurant’s chief operating officer. “But it all started here. He wanted to come back to Harlem first.” 340 West 145th Street, at Edgecombe Avenue, Harlem


A red bowl filled with white soup, blue mussels, and green herbs sits on a light blue background.
Mussel chowder.
Random Access

Random Access

Opening: Late September to mid-October

The city’s Thai restaurants offer endless options, including stellar regional cuisines from the Southeast Asian country, but newcomer Random Access will still be staking out its own niche when it opens this fall. Chef Pornnipa Nilpugsri previously worked for Thailand’s Ministry of Culture before moving to New York; now, she’s leading a menu that mixes a deep historical knowledge of Thailand with “a New York twist,” according to a spokesperson for the restaurant. The casual, all-day spot features several open kitchen areas on the main dining floor, including a build-your-own somtum salad bar and a noodle bar; and a main kitchen downstairs that will be churning out Thai-American dishes like crab curry mac and cheese and a mussel chowder that takes its cues from Thai coconut soup. Backed by restaurant juggernaut Hand Hospitality, known for its consistent hits like Her Name Is Han and Take 31, Random Access marks the group’s first Thai restaurant. 138 West 32nd Street, between Sixth and Seventh Avenues, Koreatown


Myron Mixon’s Pitmaster Barbecue

Opening: End of September or early October

In the last 15 years or so, New York’s barbecue scene has exploded with hits like Hometown Bar-B-Que in Brooklyn and more recently, Hudson Smokehouse in the Bronx. Five-time World Barbecue champion Myron Mixon hasn’t eaten at any of those restaurants, but he’s opening his first tri-state area barbecue joint this fall in Hoboken. “For me, it’s not a fad,” Mixon says. “It’s something I want everyone to enjoy.” All the meats on the menu — including dry-rubbed barbecue beef, baby back ribs, smoked half chickens — will be cooked in smokers filled with hickory and oak wood. While Myron believes wood-fired meats are superior to those cooked in smokers fueled by gas, he acknowledges that everyone has a different opinion on the best style of barbecue, from vinegar-based recipes in the Carolinas to the sweeter Kansas style. His solution? A line of sauces (hickory, blackberry, and hot sauce, among others) he’s been busy developing over the years — when he’s not eating his own barbecue. 618 Washington Street, between Sixth and Seventh streets, Hoboken, New Jersey


A white bowl containing orange spiced and fried chicken with two small metal containers of green and red dips sits on the edge of a light wooden table.
Masala fried chicken.
Rowdy Rooster

Rowdy Rooster

Opening: Late September or early October

Hot off the smash debut of Dhamaka at Essex Market earlier this year, restaurateur Roni Mazumdar and chef Chintan Pandya are now in the hectic process of opening three new establishments across Manhattan and Brooklyn this fall. First to launch will be Rowdy Rooster, a fast casual restaurant in the East Village devoted to highlighting the many iterations of spiced Indian fried chicken, including chicken pakoras and chicken bezule. The duo already have built up a following for the fried chicken dishes at their other restaurants Adda and Rahi; now, they’re dedicating a whole restaurant to the crispy, juicy poultry preparation. Rowdy Rooster will be followed by Kebabwala, a second fast casual spot in the East Village selling kebabs, and a revamped Masalawala in Park Slope in November. 149 First Avenue, near East 9th Street, East Village


Lolo’s Tacos

Opening: Late October

The team behind hit Harlem restaurant Lolo’s Seafood Shack is headed further south with this follow-up restaurant focused on street foods from Belize and Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. The regions are known for their coastal, seafood-driven dishes, which owner Leticia Skai Young and chef Raymond Mohan are channeling into a menu of fried fish tacos and cochinita pibil, a slow-roasted pork made using achiote shipped from Belize by the owners’ family. The kitchen is still tweaking the recipes, but expect to see Belizean street foods on the final menu, including tamales wrapped in plantain leaves and garnaches, which Young likened to a “tostada topped with refried beans.” The corner restaurant can seat 40 people outdoors and another 40 inside. 2799 Broadway, at West 108th Street, Upper West Side


Saraghina Caffé

Opening: Early to mid-October

Edoardo Mantelli’s crusade to transplant pieces of Italy to Brooklyn continues with the opening of Saraghina Caffe this fall in Fort Greene. The restaurateur, widely known for his crowd-favorite, charming pizzeria Saraghina in Bed-Stuy, is aiming to bring some of the same intimate, transportive dining magic to his latest project, an (eventually) all-day Italian cafe where seafood — not pizza or pasta — steps into the spotlight. “We don’t want to be the usual Italian restaurant,” Mantelli says. A crudo bar will be the main attraction at Saraghina Caffe, paired with an ambitious wine and cocktail menu. Mantelli describes the new restaurant as reminiscent of the cafes that he grew up around in his hometown of Milan, Italy. 195 Dekalb Avenue, near Carlton Avenue, Fort Greene


Three men in suits and one man in a white chefs coat and a blue apron stand outdoors in front of a gold-plated restaurant sign reading “Gotham”
From L to R: Owner Bret Csencsitz, executive chef Ron Paprocki, assistant general manager Jason Davies, and general manager Daniel Sanon.
Noah Fecks/Gotham

Gotham

Opening: October 14

The shuttered NYC institution formerly known as Gotham Bar and Grill is undergoing a revival in the hands of former general manager Bret Csencsitz as Gotham, a gently updated take on the decades-old, classic Greenwich Village spot. Longtime pastry chef Ron Paprocki is taking over the whole kitchen and introducing new dishes that aim to strike a balance somewhere between the restaurant’s old favorites made famous by veteran chef Alfred Portale, and the short-lived, flashy overhaul initiated by Portale’s replacement, the ambitious chef Victoria Blamey. The restaurant itself is getting a light makeover as well, led by the same architect who designed the original Gotham Bar and Grill 36 years ago. 12 East 12th Street, between Fifth Avenue and University Place, Greenwich Village


A white man in a short-sleeved blue and white collared shirt sits on cement steps with green ivy on the walls and pink petals on the ground in the background
Chef Jeremy Salamon.
Agi’s Counter

Agi’s

Opening: Late October

Jeremy Salamon’s first restaurant is an homage to all the women in his life. Agi’s, which is named after one of his grandmothers, is an all-day cafe that feels like “you’re coming into your grandma’s house, but with a bit of a chef-y diner situation.” He’ll be cooking up a menu of Eastern European and Jewish recipes — think leberkase (pork pate), rolled crepes, sour cherry linzer tortes — served on frilly plates with floral patterns and vintage serving platters. A number of the dishes will also draw on Salamon’s Hungarian roots, which he gave a preview of while heading up the kitchen at the Eddy in the East Village. “I want to take everything I’ve learned from the women in my life and people who have supported me to create a place where everyone is welcomed and feels like they belong,” he says. 818 Franklin Avenue, at Union Street, Crown Heights


Other openings

The team behind L’Artusi opens B’Artusi and Via Porta next door to one another (September); Danny Meyer taps chef Hillary Sterling to open Ci Siamo in Manhattan West (October); Citizens Food Hall opens at Manhattan West (September); Emilia by Nai from East Village restaurateur Ruben Rodriguez (fall); Emmett’s on Grove, a “Midwest tavern” from restaurateur Emmett Burke (September); a second location of hit Mexican restaurant For All Things Good (November); HipCityVeg, the self-proclaimed “Shake Shack of plant-based food” launches in NYC (October); Jibs, an outdoor-only seafood shack at Hudson Yards (September); a flagship cafe and ceramics studio from Brooklyn tea importer Kettl (September); Little Italy’s Manero’s Pizza expands from slice shop to full-blown restaurant (September); the team behind the Clam and Little Owl will open the Mary Lane (October); a Williamsburg outpost of sushi hand roll spot Nami Nori (October); Noz 17, a seven-seat restaurant from the one-Michelin-starred sushi counter (October); chef Franklin Becker opens an unnamed seafood restaurant on the UES and Oliva at Columbia’s Manhattanville campus (September, November); Chef Laurent Tourondel’s Skirt Steak only serves American Wagyu for a protein option but there will be an array of desserts (September); Italian pasta import Pastificio Di Martino debuts in Chelsea Market (October); the Raw Bar at Caviar Russe, a ground-floor expansion of Michelin-starred Caviar Russe (October); Sereneco, an all-day restaurant in Greenpoint’s Pencil Factory building (September); Sicily Osteria, a new Italian restaurant on Manhattan’s Restaurant Row from brothers Enrico Malta and Robert Malta (September); Sweetbriar, a restaurant within Park Hotel South from an Eleven Madison Park alum (September); Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone will resurrect Torrisi Italian Specialties as Torrisi Deli and Restaurant (October); Tortazo, an outpost of chef Rick Bayless’s fast-casual sandwich chain (September).

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